Twm y Pot Coch
It seems that owning any sizeable amount of land in North East Wales, even in urban areas comes with a fair chance of finding yourself in possession of a tumuli or two. And these tumuli have always gathered about them reputations of mystery and the supernatural - whether it be the ghosts of those buried within them, or the threat of ill fortune should they be opened. But they have often been believed to be sources of treasure, gold in particular. Sometimes, as at the famous Bryn yr Ellyllon, these beliefs have proven to be quite spectacularly true. In truth however, the treasures contained in these tumuli have been rather more important to the archaeologist and historian for the light they have shone on a period of our past devoid of any written record. There are some, it must be said, that have found an artefact here or there, that have made a pretty penny by selling it to an interested wealthy landowner, a Grosvenor or a Mostyn perhaps, but it remains that the findings, more often than not, are actual remains, bones and dust. But the belief persists, that buried beneath the lumps and bumps scattered about North East Wales is a fortune to be found.
Such was the thinking behind the tale of Twm y Pot Coch (Tom of the Red Pot). Edward Parry of Chester, but a native of Trelawnyd, author of, ‘Royal Visits and Progresses to Wales and the Border Counties’ (1850), tell us that,
‘The author, when a boy, recollects hearing of one Thomas Jones, of Axton, having digged into one of the tumuli and found an urn full of silver coins, which he disposed of, and with the money received built himself a house; from this circumstance he was called Twm y Pot Coch, or Tom the Red Pot’.
It’s an interesting story for any number of reasons. It recognises that the shattered remains of the urns within which the burnt bone and ash were placed were often made of fired red clay. It also underlines the persistent belief that there was treasure to be found. In the case of Twm y Pot Coch, Canon Elis Davies did some digging of his own during the 1930s, and came to the conclusion that the story was based on a coincidence.
The Twm in question was not, in fact, Tom Jones but rather Tom Davies of Axton, a few yards down a country lane from Llanasa, and owner of a field in which two tumuli were and indeed are present, rather pragmatically known now as Axton D (IV) and E (V). It would seem that Davies and his brothers had rebuilt their home, which had been of sods and turf to that point, in stone if you please, which seems to have caused quite a stir in the area, and prompted locals to believe he had come into sudden money - tumuli silver to be precise. His house came to be known, understandably as ‘Pot Coch’, though what Davies thought of the whole business is unknown.